Missions statements serve as a reminder of what we are attempting to accomplish; of why we exist, and are the foundation for our planning and goals. We may also produce a “Purpose Statement” which outlines the reasons why we undertake our particular mission. Here at St. John’s, at least to my knowledge, we don’t have a “Purpose Statement”. If I had to come up with one I would probably start with the confession of Thomas (you remember him…Doubting Thomas) when he came face to face with the risen Christ; “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and God and we exist for the purpose of carrying out the commands that He has given us. As Lord, He’s the one that sets the rules and we’re the ones who are to obey them. As God He is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier who gives us life in order that we might accomplish His will for us; do what we’re created to do. Our purpose is to carry out the will on earth of Our Lord and our God.
That seems to be the easy part, now, what about our mission. What SHOULD our mission be and who gets to make that decision? That’s easy too. If we are truly “Christians” then Christ is the one who gets to determine what we should be about! Our mission is to carry out his commands. He’s the General, we’re His troops. We get our marching orders from Him. So, what are they? Jesus gives us our orders loud and clear in Scripture, in the Gospels. Shortly before returning to His heavenly throne He gives us two clear commands. In the upper room on the night before his death on the cross Jesus tells us; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) The love that Jesus models for us is one of self-sacrifice, giving up selfish interests for the temporal and eternal good of all others. Shortly before His ascension Jesus gives us another command; “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20) Here we are commanded to carry the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus to all the world, proclaiming it, teaching it and baptizing people into the family of God through faith in His promises. That’s our mission…preaching and teaching the Gospel to all people and loving one another as Christ loves us. Seems pretty simple, but not easy.
Much of the Christian world has lost that focus. We too here at St. John’s Lutheran have lost much of our focus. All too often we’re concerned more with our own wellbeing (self-interest) than the eternal wellbeing of those around us, those that God has placed us here to minister to. Yes, we faithfully proclaim the Gospel, but mostly within the confines of our castle (sanctuary) and behind our moat (the parking lot and grounds of the church building). As individuals and as a congregations Jesus tells us to “go”, and as we go to make disciples through the sharing of the Word of God with those we meet along the way. We are to drop the drawbridge and head out into the countryside around us with the message of God’s love in Christ Jesus, and we are to model that love through our behavior; not demanding that things be done “our way” and for our benefit, but submitting to God and one another for the best interests of everyone, whether they’re a member of the church or not, a child of God or still lost in darkness.
For all of our failures to do this we can be sure of God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus, that’s what He died for, and He rose to make us forever right with our Father. What He lives for, and now lives in us for, is the mission of proclaiming His Good News and loving all people as He does.